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To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No
Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes
Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes
Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes
Was it of at least regional importance? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes
Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes
Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes
Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:
1923 and 1955: ‘1923’ and ‘1955’ are the years in which 'Mitsubishi Electric Corporation' and 'Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd. (currently Toshiba Corporation, hereafter 'Toshiba Corporation') collaborated with Koshinsha Co., Ltd.' commercialized the world's first ‘electric rice cooker’ and ‘automated electric rice cooker’, respectively.
Title of the proposed milestone:
Commercialization of Electric Rice Cookers, 1923 and 1955
Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:
The world’s first ‘electric rice cooker’ and ‘automated electric rice cooker’ were commercialized in 1923 and 1955 by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and Toshiba Corporation collaborated with Koshinsha Co., Ltd., respectively. Each was aimed at a kitchen appliance for rice cooking, and its commercialization contributed greatly to the progress of home electrification in Japan and other East Asia countries.
In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):
Unit: Tokyo Section
Senior Officer Name: Yoshiaki Nakano
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:
Unit: Tokyo Section
Senior Officer Name: Yoshiaki Nakano
IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):
IEEE Section: Tokyo Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Yoshiaki Nakano
Proposer name: Isao Shirakawa
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public
Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (Address: 2-7-3 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8310, Japan; GPS coordinates; N 35.6784426, E 139.7648084) and Toshiba Corporation (Address; 1-1-1 Shibaura, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-8001, Japan; GPS coordinates; N 35.6518120, E 139.7576211)
Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.
Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. The head offices of both Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and Toshiba Corporation.
Are the original buildings extant?
The original buildings of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and Toshiba Corporation are both extant.
Details of the plaque mounting:
The plaque will be displayed in the entrance hall in the Main Building of each of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and Toshiba Corporation.
How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?
The plaque will be fixed on the wall of the entrance hall in the Main Building of each of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and Toshiba Corporation, which can be accessible to the public with permission.
Who is the present owner of the site(s)?
Mr. Takeshi Sugiyama (President and CEO, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation) and Mr. Satoshi Tsunakawa (President and CEO, Toshiba Corporation)
What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?
The historical significance on the ‘electric rice cooker’ as well as on the ‘automated electric rice cooker’ is briefed as follows.
1. Historical Background of the Commercialization of ‘Electric Rice Cooker’ and ‘Automated Electric Rice Cooker’
In the past the rice cooking was carried out by means of non-automated dedicated rice cooking utensils, whereas at present it is by automated electric/gas rice cookers. The world’s first ‘electric rice cooker’  and ‘automated electric rice cooker’  were commercialized in 1923 and 1955 by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and Toshiba Corporation collaborated with Koshinsha Co., Ltd., respectively [3, 4, 5]. As for the former, its commercialization started in the year when the Great Earthquake of 1923 occurred, and it was used mostly on board . On the other hand, as for the latter, it was the first commercially successful rice cooker for home use [3, 4, 5], and its commercialization contributed greatly to the progress of home electrification in Japan and other East Asia countries.
2. History of the Commercialization of Electric Rice Cookers
The ‘electric rice cooker’ commercialized in 1923 by Mitsubishi Electric was composed of an aluminum pot with a heating coil inside and an inner cooking bowl to hold rice. Since this rice cooker had no turn-off function, it required constant monitoring during cooking, where it should be added that this rice cooker was used mostly on board . Due to lack of a turn-off function, Mitsubishi Electric soon began to develop an automatic turn-off facility attached to this rice cooker so that it could be automatically turned off when the water in the pot boiled off. However, it was not until in 1930 that Mitsubishi Electric succeeded in attaching an automatic turn-off facility to the rice cooker, where it should be noted that this modified rice cooker with a turn-off facility was still used on board .
3. History of the Commercialization of Automated Electric Rice Cookers
In 1952 a General Manager of Toshiba Corporation consulted with the President of Koshinsha Co., Ltd. about the collaboration in commercializing an ‘automated electric rice cooker’. As a result, the joint R&D (research and development) targeted at this rice cooker was approved by the two companies, and it was implemented as outlined in what follows :
1) In 1952 Toshiba agreed with Koshinsha on the joint R&D to commercialize an automated electric rice cooker such that Koshinsha took on the role of developing it.
2) The two companies were trustfully convinced that the key point of cooking rice was how to turn the raw starch with a crystal structure into the ‘gelatinized starch’ whose crystal structure was decomposed by heating.
3) Seeing that in the trial rice-cooking, there were hard rice due to insufficient cooking as well as scorched rice due to overcooking, Koshinsha began to devise an effective method called ‘triple-chamber indirect rice cooking’ in order to detect the boil and to turn off the switch as specified in rice-cooking.
4) Making the best use of this method, in 1955 Koshinsha managed to accomplish an automated electric rice cooker after three years’ desperate endeavors.
5) With the use of this rice cooker, in 1955 Toshiba successfully placed the world’s first ‘automated electric rice cooker’ on the market by adopting a useful method called ‘double-chamber indirect rice cooking’.
This ‘automated electric rice cooker’ was usually used as follows: Rice was placed into a cooking bowl and water into a surrounding pot. When the water in the outer pot boiled off, the temperature of the bowl rose rapidly, and a bimetallic thermostat then activated and automatically turned off the heater to prevent burning of the cooked rice.
Eventually, in 1955 Toshiba anyhow embarked on a business of selling the completed 700 units of this electric rice cooker, in which, however, sales did not grow as expected. Thus, Toshiba soon started to improve the supplying network so strategically that a maximum monthly production of 200,000 units was successfully provided for the Japanese market. Four years later, rice cookers became widespread in half of all Japanese households, and the total production volume reached 12.35 million units [3, 4, 5].
What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?
In the early development phase, electric rice cookers encountered several obstacles, which were overcome as outlined below.
1. Obstacles to the Development of Electric Rice Cookers
The ‘electric rice cooker’ released in 1923 by Mitsubishi Electric was based on a simple concept of heating the rice to cook and turning off the cooker when the temperature of the bowl rose to a certain point. At this initial stage, or even in the late 1920s, electric rice cookers were hardly spread for home use due to the underdevelopment of home electrification in Japan. Furthermore, the rice cooking was still influenced so severely by variation of room temperature that under-cooked rice was often produced. Thus, in the early development phase, many makers continued to experience failures in their ongoing trial-and-error approaches [3, 4].
2. Obstacles to the Commercialization of Automated Rice Cooker
Toshiba’s ‘double-chamber indirect rice cooking method’ adopted in the ‘automated electric rice cooker’ took more time for rice cooking and consumed more electricity than Mitsubishi Electric’s method in the ‘electric rice cooker’. Furthermore, since this method had no keep-warm function, the cooked rice cooled down so quickly that it was often necessary to take the trouble to move the cooked rice to heat-insulated serving containers. Accordingly, this method was gradually phased out in the late 1950s, until in 1965 Zojirushi Corporation embarked on a new business of commercializing an advanced rice cooker with a keep-warm facility, using a semiconductor heat regulator. The product sold 2,000,000 units per year [3, 4].
What features set this work apart from similar achievements?
The world’s first ‘electric rice cooker’ and ‘automated rice cooker’ had distinctive features as outlined in what follows.
1. Unique Development of Electric Rice Cookers
In old times the rice cooking was performed by using non-automated dedicated rice-cooking utensils, which have an ancient history (e.g. a ceramic rice cooker dated to 1250 BC is on display in the British Museum ). The ‘electric rice cooker’ put on sale in 1923 by Mitsubishi Electric did not have a turn-off function, and it required constant monitoring during cooking. Hence, Mitsubishi Electric soon started developing an automatic turn-off facility attached to this rice cooker. However, it was not until in 1930 that they succeeded in attaching an automatic turn-off facility to the rice cooker, where it should be noted that this renewed rice cooker with a turn-off facility was still used on board .
2. Rice Cookers with Automatic Turn-Off Facility
The ‘automated electric rice cooker’ released in 1955 by Toshiba was developed by employing a method called ‘double-chamber indirect rice cooking’, as already stated. Although this rice cooker was equipped with an automatic turn-off facility, it had no keep-warm function, and the cooked rice cooled down so quickly that it was often necessary to move the cooked rice to heat-insulated serving containers. Thus, even though Toshiba produced 200,000 units per month, this method was gradually phased out in the late 1950s, until a different rice cooker with a keep-warm function became strongly required. Thus, in 1965 Zojirushi Corporation started a new business of commercializing an advanced rice cooker with a keep-warm function, using a semiconductor heat regulator. The product sold 2,000,000 units per year [3, 4], as already stated.
3. Subsequent Development of Electric Rice Cookers
Since the 1980s, most of higher-end electric rice cookers had used microprocessors to control the cooking process, often incorporating a memory and an electric timer that can be used to set the desired ‘ready time’. Since the 1990s, Japanese makers had been attempting to compete by seeking a niche in models with added values by increasing the number of features of their products. Eventually, a variety of much more advanced ideas had been persistently sought so far for microprocessor-controlled cooking, pressure cooking, IH (induction heating) cooking, thermal far-infrared radiation cooking, and so forth [3, 4, 5].
Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.
 ‘Product history of rice cookers’; http://www.goodspress.jp/columns/67395/2/ (in Japanese).
 ‘Kitchen revolution: Birth story of world’s first electric rice cookers’; http://allabout.co.jp/gm/gc/ 292625/ (in Japanese).
 ‘Rice cooker’; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_cooker
 ‘Rice cooker’; http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/炊飯器 (in Japanese).
 ‘Japan’s first electric rice cooker’; https://toshiba-mirai-kagakukan.jp/learn/history/ichigoki/1955cooker/index.j.htmh (in Japanese)
Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to email@example.com. Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.
Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).